Helping young people to deal with loss

How you react and behave affects how your children adapt to the loss of their other parent or sibling. One of the best ways to help your children cope is to get help yourself.

It’s okay to let your children see you crying or expressing other feelings about the loss. Seeing how you deal with it and your range of emotions gives your kids permission to express theirs too. But if you are feeling overwhelmed and finding it hard to control your feelings get some support.

If you need some help coping with your grief Cancer Council and Redkite have a variety of services for you – call us on 1800 TelWeb and we will help guide you to the right support.

Over time your children might have new questions about what happened to their parent or sibling. Let them know it’s always okay to ask, and keep answering them honestly.

They also might have feelings of guilt or ‘unresolved’ issues if they did not have a good relationship with the parent or sibling before they died which makes it harder to deal with the loss. Help them remember good times.

The loss of a parent or sibling changes the family structure, relationships, roles and responsibilities. There is a lot of information and practical advice written for young people in the ‘Bereavement and loss’ section of this site.

It’s important for both of you to have support from people outside your immediate family. Other family members or close friends can help cushion the loss for your children. If they’re worried about burdening you, they may be more likely to open up with other adults they trust. They also might find it helpful to connect with other young people who’ve lost a parent or brother or sister to cancer in the Canteen Community or peer support programs.

If you are worried that your child’s grieving is severe or too long-lasting they may need professional help. Signs they might need help include seeming ‘stuck’ in the grieving process, feeling sad all the time and not being able to be comforted, appetite changes, trouble sleeping or starting to take drugs, drink or smoke.

Contact Canteen (1800 TelWeb or and one of our counsellors can assist you to get the right support.